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If you are of a certain age, you may remember your dad tinkering around under the hood of his car, making minor repairs and performing routine maintenance. Today, that is a far less common scenario. One key reason is vehicles now rely on complex software to perform as they’re designed to perform. A large percentage of your car’s systems are computerized. The benefits of keeping your vehicle computer system updated include optimal performance and fewer trips to the repair shop for physical fixes.

There are benefits of keeping your vehicle computer system updated.

How to Update a Car’s Software: The Old Way 

The sophistication and complexity of your car’s software systems vary depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle. Today, the most common way to have your car’s software updated is to take it to a skilled service provider equipped with the computers and equipment to perform the necessary updates. Updating your car’s software is not something you can do in your own garage! When you take your vehicle in for routine service, your service provider will check for updates while it is there.

Times Are Changing: Over the Air (OTA) Updates Are Coming

Do cars require regular computer updates? They absolutely do! If you grumble about having to take your car in to your local repair shop for software updates, you are in luck. Remote, or “over the air” (OTA), updating is becoming more common. If you own a computer, you’re well aware software makers are always tweaking their software to fix bugs, add features and improve functionality. This is also true of automotive software makers. Approximately 20 percent of cars sold last year included embedded connectivity features allowing for remote updates of onboard navigation and entertainment and information systems. Currently, automakers are investing in technologies to remotely update such critical features as braking systems, transmission, stability controls, passenger safety systems and cruise control. Right now, the only car maker that is performing remote updates on core operating systems is Tesla. In the future, remote updates will be commonplace.

Do cars require regular computer updates?

What You Should Know

As with anything that is automated, privacy and hacking concerns exist with OTA. Your car could be programmed to transmit data to the automaker. Privacy advocates note personal data could be jeopardized or sold to third parties. Some automakers, including Toyota, pledge private data will be collected only from cars whose owners authorize it. Car makers argue they can use this data to improve customer service and vehicle performance. Privacy concerns aside, remote updates promise to make it easier for consumers to keep their vehicles’ computer systems updated. Removing the need to take your car in for an update significantly will improve compliance.

If you have a late-model vehicle and can’t remember the last time its computers were updated, contact us at DeBoer’s Automotive. Our auto repair shop in Sussex County has the equipment and expertise to keep your vehicle’s computerized systems on track.

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Bill DeBoer

Written by Bill DeBoer

William J. DeBoer (Bill Jr.) is Co-owner and Vice President at DeBoer’s Auto. As the company’s General Manager, Bill has been responsible for bringing innovations in daily operations to the full-service, high-tech auto repair facility for 20+ years. Passionate about computers from an early age, Bill’s interest in technology gravitated to cars while he was in college. By obtaining a Certificate in Automotive Technology followed by a B.S. in Business Management from Penn State, Bill was able to fuse his interests into a car technology specialization and join the family business shortly thereafter.